Comcast Sees Bucks In Premium Tech Support

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Comcast is eyeing a business opportunity in helping subscribers connect and manage a slew of computers, tablets, broadband-connected TV and other gadgets to the its broadband service, with the launch of the Xfinity Signature Support premium technical support service.

The operator is launching Xfinity Signature Support initially in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., markets. Comcast plans to expand it to the rest of its footprint in 2011.

Support.com, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of technical support services, is providing the online and phone support component for Xfinity Signature Support. Comcast has contracted with Nashville, Tenn.-based Asurion to provide in-home tech support visits.

Ordinarily, Comcast provides 24-hour support only for its own video, broadband and phone services and related equipment. With Xfinity Signature Support, the MSO will provide what it promises is "a single source for troubleshooting and support for their computers, home networks and many other devices" with support online, over the phone or in a customer's home.

Xfinity Signature Support

Xfinity Signature Support is available in three tiers: the Computer Maintenance Plan, $4.95 per month, for basic support for up to four computers; Wireless Networking Support for $5.95 per month (plus a $39 setup fee), which adds support for Wi-Fi networking equipment; and Complete Home Support, $19.95 per month (plus $79 setup fee), which includes support for home networking, maintenance for up to four PCs, virus removal, peripherals, and data backup and restoration.

In addition to the monthly plans, Comcast will sell one-time fixes, such as virus removal or connecting printers or game consoles to wireless networks under the Xfinity Signature Support brand for between $49.95 and $129.95 a pop. The service also offers extended equipment plans covering computers and flat-panel TVs, which are to be administered by Asurion.

"Given the incredible growth and complexity of personal electronics devices, our customers have told us they would like additional choices for technical assistance beyond the support we already provide for their video, Internet and voice services," Mitch Bowling, Comcast senior vice president and general manager of new businesses, said in a statement. "As we continue to invest in the overall Comcast experience, Xfinity Signature Support lets us provide an end-to-end technical support solution for customers."

Comcast provides more information at www.xfinity.com/signaturesupport.

Separately, Cox Communications last fall launched a similar premium technical support program for broadband customers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, for $14.99 per month.

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